When I'm dancing with someone, lots of times another woman will start tapping me on the shoulder when the music is barely over. It's flattering that they want to dance with me, but it feels weird not even being able to say goodbye to one partner before starting off with another! What should I do?
In these troubled times, when the art of dancing--like that of tying one's cravat--is no longer an essential part of a gentleman's education, men often find themselves sadly outnumbered on the dance floor.
Still, the scarcity of partners at a dance is no excuse for a lady to pounce on an available gentleman the instant the music ends. Aside from being rude, it can give weaker-minded gentlemen what is colloquially known as a swelled head. Consider this, ladies: is it healthy for a man to believe that he merits such exertion?
As a gentleman, there is little you can do in this situation except to smile graciously at the offender, accept her proposal unless committed to another, and ask her to wait a moment so that you can walk your current partner off the dance floor.
After a dance, who is supposed to say "thank you"--the man or the woman?
Gender BenderDear Gender Bender:
Yours is the sort of query that warms Grace's heart, for you assume that gratitude should be expressed after a dance. And quite rightly. Thanks are always required, even if your partner's dancing reminds you of when your kid sister tried out her first pair of ice skates.
Unfortunately, in this era of soundbites, channel-hopping and the shocking acceptance of e-mail as a legitimate form of communication, the average person's attention span has so shrunk that it is hard enough for him to keep his mind on his partner during a dance, much less to remember to say "thank you" afterwards. Hence I am inclined to cheer on the practice without worrying greatly about who thanks whom.
But to answer your question: saying "thank you" has nothing to do with gender. Rather, the person who asked the other to dance should thank his or her partner for the pleasure. Since in the past this was always the gentleman, many people think the gentleman should always tender his gratitude to his partner, even if dancing with the lady was not his idea. But if the lady initiated the contact, it is proper for her to proffer her thanks.
Not that there is ever anything wrong with the asked party saying "thank you," or "that was fun" or something else appreciative. It is always good manners to make another person feel comfortable.
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